Agromakers: open food solutions for small scale agriculture ecological transition
Opening information in food systems will empower economically from the users small scale agriculture ecological transition
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement IRD
Lead Applicant Organization Type
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Universidad de Los Andes, University, Bogotá, Colombia
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Escuela Superior Politécnica del Chimborazo, Ecuador
Universidad Internacional del Ecuador
Familia de la tierra, foundation, Colombia
Arac, Asoarce, Proasoagro, Mercado de la Tierra, Agrosolidaria, in Colombia
Asociacion de Mujeres del Canton de Cayambe Ecuador asociación de productores, Makipura, In Ecuador
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
North andean cities and their agricultural neighborhooods. In particular in the páramo.
What country is your selected Place located in?
Colombia and Ecuador
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
I am a researcher from the french institute for research for development (IRD), I have worked as invited professor in Quito - Ecuador (Pontificia Universidad católica del Ecuador) and Bogotá - Colombia (Universidad de los Andes) for 6 years. The objective of my researches within the international laboratory Bioinca http://bioinca.org/ is to reduce the use of pesticides with the participation of farmers. Part of my family is from Bogotá.
I realized my research on the reduction of pesticides use in agriculture could only be adopted if integrated in a systemic food system transformation. Small scale agriculture is at the crossroads of sustainable development goals and is threatened in the short term by lack of market opportunities and adapted technologies. We realized that open source and soft and hard wares and sharing information among food system actors could empower agro-ecological small scale agriculture producers and associations I was working with. Developing these open source and open information solutions from the users became our strategy. We believe this could impact all the components of food systems in the areas of production, transformation, certification and commercialization. We organized a first agromakers event in in two majors Bogota's universities in December 2019 (http://bogota2019.agromakers.org), to address theses issues by inviting small scale farmers from Bogotá neighbourhoods to expose necessities and find solution with other actors. The present project emerges from this event. Associations were asking for open source and open-information systems integrated in a visible platform, and the different actors understood how this would free small scale agriculture food systems from existing destructive value chains. We also believe it will impact my university, the university of the Andes (UNIANDES). The agromakers project will promote open source publication of technologies related to sustainability developped in the university.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Figure 1. The north Andean small scale agriculture is feeding major cities but is endangered ecologically and socially. The precolombian terraces are still partially visible in the picture, but have been largely eroded by mechanization (whitening soil of the foreground). The city in the background is hosting large universities that do not include as much in their research social ecological associations, many held by women, to reduce ecological, social and diet footprints of their foodsystems.
The participants to the 2019 Agromakers event worked on building solutions to the necessities of Bogotá's agroecological foodsystem agents.
North andean populations share a quite homogenous culture that emerged from the interaction between an indigenous holistic cosmovision aknowledging and protecting mother nature, and an occidental human centered cosmovision promoting infinite economic growth supported by scientific reductionism and that led to the expansion of an extractivist economy in the region. The ecological crisis and the internet revolution nowaday provide a new oportunities for the emergence of an aliance between technology and holistic cosmovision of food systems and sustainability in general.
North Andean cities also share also their dependence on the high altitude ecosystems associated to páramo for their water.
The cuisine of the area is based on meat and cereals, rice, maize or potato and makes little use of vegetables and in particular of the thousands of indigenous domesticated varieties and species that were consumed before European colonisation. Yet the agroecological movement permited to some restaurant to develop aliances with agroecological asssociations and farms. These initiatives and the diversity of small farmer agroecological associations that will be included in this open platdorm form the basis and strength of the project.
The climate is highly diverse. Each north andean city has access to agriculture products from all altitudinal levels and climates that can be transported and transformed in less than one day from the field to the plate. These ecosystems harbor most of earth biodiversity and are endangered in the short and mid term by present destructive food systems.
The rural population is also endangered by poverty, aging, and little access to education and health. The urban population is on its side, endangered by the limited economic opportunity and vision associated to the exractivist economy. Although Colombia had developed an industry more than its neighbours, the little investment in education in the region, in comparison to Asia in the past 50 years led to a competitive stalling of its technology and industry. But still this extractivist economies permitted the countries to experience of the largest economic growth of the world which permitted the new vision of the 4.0 economy to emerge as a possibility for all.
The vision we have to transform food system and reach sustainable goals is to empower small scale farmers and their direct marketing with consumers using open source and open information technologies.
Our project builds on existing small scale farmer agroecological associations as familia de la tierra, Arac, proasoagro, Casa del Chorro around Bogotá, or móvimiento cantonal de mujeres Cayambe, finca Chaupi Molino, and Makipura aims to include more around major Andean cities that developped local solutions and ecomic models.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
- Diets challenge : These ecosystems and their abilities to feed people with healthy diets are endangered by conventional agricultural practices, mostly in large farming units.
- Economic challenge : Small farmers holders in these areas are poor and ageing due to lack of market opportunity. Since they use low input they could potentially valorize their production in agro-ecological market. But they all sell their product at very low prices independently of their quality.
- Culture challenge : Many rural associations have started to change their practices by developing short circuit marketing with urban population to sell at better prices locally to ecologically conscious consumers.
- Technology challenge : To empower these association, in the world there is a large "agromarkers" movement to provide open source technologies for agricultural transition that reduce the cost and labour associated to ecological transition, and direct marketing information technologies and traceability that reduce the costs of certification and commercialization of good practices in agriculture. But these technologies are not accessible to most small scale farmers due to educational, financial and cultural barriers.
- Policy challenge : bottom up solutions. Territorial decisions have to promote and accompany local initiative. Having access to big data on food system is essential for these politics.
To address all these aspects in 2020, the challenge is to empower agro-ecological farmers associations with low cost information technologies and tools so that they can appropriate production transformation an commercialization of Andean agrobiodiversity. The first keystone point is the market. We have to empower low cost direct market strategy that has been developed by the associations and is based on interpersonal trust with open source algorithms for routing, and QRcode transacions. The second point is developing tools to link traditional knowledges and cultures with scientific process. Another keystone is attracting of young people to agriculture by providing access to open source machines reducing arduousness of small scale agriculture and promoting transgenerational heritage by attracting them before elders die.
The 2050 challenge is to reach zero footprint food system. This means building an virtuous economic model that gow by itself and invade the economy by 2050 without long term external financing.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
The first reason why our project will meet these challenges is that is will start from small farm holders necessities, empowering local initiatives with adapted research and accessible technologies. As described above, small scale agriculture is at the crossroads of SD goals and is threatened in the short term by lack of market opportunities and adapted technologies.
Organic market is expanding throughout the world. Small farm holder systems are close to organic farm system because of using reduced input, but remain very poor and unattractive economically because they cannot access to organic market. The first aim is therefore to develop direct peer to peer commercialization platform with QR code traceability. These systems of direct marketing have already
The different academic groups participating to the project are committed to produce open source technologies, hardware and software, from electronics to algorithmic, biology and agronomy and work on making open source kits and information really accessible to farmers, and consumers through videos, plans, and direct market. This will also allow students to create enterprises emerging from open source academic publications.
The farmers organizations are committed to publish their necessities and talents they can bring to the platforms through workshops in the farms, videos, and agro-ecological markets events.
The most important difficulty in this technological-ecological transition of small scale agriculture is to put together the strength of the emerging agro-ecological economy based on personal relationships, agro-ecological tourism, direct marketing that is limited to a small group of persons that can get to know each other personally, with the strength of open source and information technologies to be able to scale up this economy. Open source and open information allowing consumers, scientists and producers to be part of the innovation, evaluation and certification process and provide open source solution to valorize the agro-biodiversity and agro-ecological products will be one principle of the platform. The platform will also include an open source algorithm for direct marketing and reduction distribution cost. The producers and consumers or restaurants will be able to exchange directly through QR CODE transaction in the platform. A distinction will be made between exchanges of information and exchange of products through QR CODE personalized transaction in the platform. A rule will be established in the various workshops realized in the different Andean cities to that an actor in the system cannot become a permanent centre in the network of commercial exchanges. All the information and commercial exchanges will be made public to the platform users.
The professors of the different participating universities will work for the development of open source organic shops, cafes and or restaurants within the universities.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Theagromakers network will integrate rural and urban north Andeanpopulations aiming to improve their well being by respectingpachamama, and eat better. The registration to the networkwill be open to everyone, as persons or associations sharing thissame ethical and well being objective. The temporal or permanentexclusion will occur when not respecting rules of the platform asusing the platform for non ethical purpose. People form outside theplatform will have access to the code but not the transactioninformation.
The network will attract more an more people from the major NorthAndean cities and their neighbouring rural areas by providing opensource information on agricultural practices and food system diets,and QRcode transacions that will promote zero-footprint-good-food inthe Andes, and tools for the appopriation of locally adaptedtechnologies.
The farmers will be able to valorize in the market their goodpractices. The most a transaction between actors in the platformpromotes agro-biodiversity, stores carbon in the soil, contributes toreduction of poverty, improves the diets and tastes, the less it willbe taxed by the platform for the commons.
The transport will have reduced footprint using routing algorithmand being covered by tax depending on their footprint.
The transformation and comercialization of crop products will beappropriated locally by farmers, using low-tech, as solar driers, orautomatic dispensers thereby reducing product post-harvest loss andtransportation footprints.
The restaurants and consumers will have linked palate and planet,acceeding to famous chefs low footprint and gourmet menu, and willuse be able to voice recognizing receipe algorithms proposing thebest gourmet diet recipe from the available basket.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Figure 2. Agromakers project aims to build zero ecological footprint food system in major Andean cities by 2050. The concept is open source and open information. The method is constructing from small scale farmers and other users necessities, and providing them access to open source tools in all the components of the food system ; production, transformation and commercialization.
Figure 3. Hierarchy of actions to reduce ecooogical footprint of agriculture
Map of the organizations participating to the Agromakers project
Figure 4. Necesites the agromakers movement can cover for the different actors of the food systems.
By 2030, our vision is that open food principles and developments from the users will constitute an economic model making small scale agriculture a good business in the Andes, a buisness in continuity with traditional cultures and practices, but attractive for new generations in terms of income, comfort and well-being. By 2050, this open information system aims to reach reach zero ecological and social footprints.
Our strategy to achieve such sustainable food system is to share information among agents in physical spaces and events, and in aplatform hosting open source softwares, and hardwares for ecological transition (Figure 2).
Building from the user. The idea of agromaker project came from an event where farmers expressed with counts and histories their need for spaces where information on the talents, products and tools present in the Bogotá agricultural neighborhood would be shared and made available. Agromaker is a network of people with the same philosophy instead of a classical hierarchical organization. Each by covering it's necessities within this ethical principles will contribute to open and sustainable food systems (Figure 3).
Developing technologies and science adapted to small farmholders necessity. Building from the user requires using adapted tools allowing farmers to collect data in order to valorize their practices and participate to their scientific improvement. Many of their practices originate from long-standing cultural beliefs or localy developped solutions. They have little been studied and questioned scientifically.
Addressing all the themes together. Environment, diets, economics, culture, technology, and policy components of the food system are addressed altogether in a systemic vison from the production to the transformation and comercialization, from the soil to the plate, altogether in complete transparency.
Increasing transparency Transparency of the information across the food system is the way to reduce cheating and reach an optimal systemic behaviour. Oportunities for hiding information and cheating is strongly related to centrality and orientation of information flow a network. A decentralized and unoriented network structure naturally creates more transparency than a hierarchical network: information will leak by one node or the other. Metrics of the network will therefore be public and discussed during events. Subnetworks with satisfactory metrics will have to contain all the components of the food system from soil to plate.
Opening the sources. The largest and most beneficial companies are now publishing a large part of their code so that more people can use and thereby improve it. Public open source hardware and softwares are available in the internet to solve problems in production transformation and commercialization. Agromakers is linked with such platforms as Instructable or lowtechlab, for hardware or GitHub for softwares. Our platform will make opensource accessible to small farm holders and other food system agents in the north Andes by providing kits. We will participate in the development to the open source code available in these platforms. For hardware there is a need to use local material to promote local industry. For software the database made for northern countries have to be completed for Colombia and Ecuador.
Long term auto-financing
After a launching period, a percentage of the QR Code transactions will be covered by the platform for maintenance and development. Actors using the information of the platform for business outside the platform can be excluded.
Zero footprint by 2050.
Open information will permit to calculate footprints and redistribute resources toward low to zero footprint activities. A percentage of the transactions will be covered by the platform for its development. Low to zero footprint transactions will not be covered. Transactions reducing inequalities among the actors will also not be covered.
Interpersonal trust and ethics. All the agents of the agromakers food systems know and are known personally other agents.Agents are certified by other agents as persons and thiscertification network must respond to the rules of decentralization described above. One agent cannot be certified by an agent he certifies. Dishonest certification can be cause of exclusion. Agents not conforming can be excluded from agromakers. These constitutional rules will be decided democratically. This insures a secure and low cost certification process.
Direct marketing: the market of small scale farming and organic farming is held by large agro distribution and third party certification companies. Third party certification is not accessibleto small scale farmer organizations. And large distribution maintain price low therby impeeding ecological transition investment. The solution found associations and foundations participating to the project Casa del Chorro (CC) en Colombia, Movimiento Cantonal de Mujeres de Cayambe en Ecuador (MCMC) is direct marketing based onagroturism and interpersonal trust (CC, MCMC). This strategy will be reinforced in agromakers.
- Each farm will be registered and data collected using tools detailed after ( http://app.agromakers.org/ )made open.
- Traceability : QRcode system will be used for product traceability from plate to farm.
- Distribution soft: Then, open source machine as vroom http://vroom-project.org/ for distribution routing optimization will be used and fed with Bogota, Quito and Riobamba data base in Github to optimize direct marketing at low cost.
- Café gourmets and/or shops: in addition to online direct marketing, spaces will be constituted in the universities to deliver QRCode products.
- Automatic distribution. A machine developped by Familia de la tierra associaiton with the participation of makers and IRD will be installed in agromakers universities.
Appropriation of transformation :
- Technologies for transformation (driers, potato chips processors, jam) will be meade accessible by open source manuals and kits.
- Existing open source hardware published in Instructable for the high tech and Lowtechlab for the low tech will be made available, and kits will be developped by using, as much as possible, local material and local popular work so that ecological and social footprint is reduced and the product not taxed by the platform.
- Spaces as the touristic farms, the Café gourmet and Shop as well as the platform itself will have educative objectives. The project includes chefs as Sebastian Imbago who propose menus based onthe biodiversity produced by local organic farms( https://www.facebook.com/balcon2hemisferios/ o https://www.facebook.com/1446659805593794/).
- Existing open source tools will be included in the platform to find recipe based on available products in the local basket( https://github.com/Jellyfiish/recipely ). The culture change we aim to generate and that is beeing developped by these chefs but is to prepare a menu based on exiting local agro ecological products and not the conventional cooking culture : look for products after having decided the menu.
- The agromaker database will be linked to the server openfoodfacts ( https://world.openfoodfacts.org/ ) to evaluate diets of meals proposed by the platform from the basket of the consumers and contribute to its database for Colombian and Ecuatorian agro-biodiversity.
Present atmosphere hosts twice the amount of carbon it hosted before industrial revolution. Present technology allows humanity to extract as much fossil carbon and double the atmosphere CO2 in the next future. Correlation between CO2 and temperature has been almost perfect in the prehistory. The soil still hosts as organic material, twice the carbon present in the atmosfere. Capturing carbon through agro-ecological practices is our major focus to reach zero-to-negative footprint.
Low footprint tecnnology
Carbon footprint of each product will be calculated and a label will be delivered. A percentage of the QRcode transactions be covered by the platform in relation to their footprint.
Doing science with actors
Construction of integral solutions between scientists, farmers and others actors is keystone to our success. Participatory science is divided into two subdisciplines : co-construction of models to build integrative hypotheses and solutions, and crowd sourcing of data to test scientific hypotheses. Our method for the first time joins these two components that will feed each other (people are more inclined to collect data when they participate to the construction of the hypothesis they are interested to test). The interface is an ecosystem dynamic graph co-constructed in workshops (Fig. 5). In the case of a plant epidemiological model, nodes are climatic,vegetation, practices and epidemiological variables. The egdes aretheir interaction in time as parameterized functions. The tool will construct such probabilistic model. The cutting edge advance will beto include a crowd sourcing component to improve this prior model ina Bayesian framework with crowd sourcing data on the ecosystem variables. Voice recognition and image recognition open software willbe included to facilitate crowd sourcing by communities not used tocollect data.
The platform, by collecting big data on food systems in the Andes aims to become an important source of information for policy makers.
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